World

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha suffers heart attack

One leader had heart attack and two resigned, shocking region and world

CHENNAI Authorities in southern India put police on high alert yesterday, fearing an outbreak of civil unrest after one of the country's most popular leaders, Ms Jayalalithaa Jayaram, suffered a cardiac arrest.

Doctors treating the 68-year-old former film star, who enjoys an almost god-like status in the southern state of Tamil Nadu which she rules as chief minister, said she was in critical condition and had been admitted to intensive care.

Hundreds of supporters have kept a round-the-clock vigil outside the private Apollo hospital in the state capital Chennai since she was first admitted in September suffering from a fever, AFP reported.

Yesterday, television footage showed crowds praying for the chief minister, who is known simply as Amma (mother), many of them in tears.

"Amma should survive. I won't mind if my life is taken away, but Amma should live," one supporter cried.

HEALTH WAS IMPROVING

Ms Jayalalithaa has not been seen in public since September, but the hospital had said her health was improving before she suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday evening, sparking fresh concerns, AFP reported.

The Press Trust of India said police across the state had been put on high alert to maintain law and order, with 1,000 officers stationed at the hospital alone.

Media reports said some Chennai schools would remain closed

The US consulate in the city said it had suspended services and warned Americans to exercise caution.

There were no immediate reports of unrest, but several of her supporters had resorted to self-harm previously.

Self-immolation is one of them, reported the BBC.

One supporter set himself on fire last Wedesday and was admitted to hospital with 30 per cent burns.­ ­

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